March 6, 2010
Steelworkers at Vale Inco’s operations in Northern Ontario have been off the job since May of last year. Firstly, because of a cynical and unprecedented company shutdown. Then, since July, because of a strike deliberately provoked by the Brazilian multinational. The misery imposed on working families is incalculable. This stand-off may likely last for many more months, dwarfing even the bitter 9-month strike of 1978-9. A line has been drawn in the rock and snow of the Sudbury basin, and we call on the working class of Canada, and indeed across the globe, to mobilize to win a battle in which we all have a huge stake.
Vale is one of a new breed of international megacompanies that has come out on top in an ever-more-feverish battle for survival in the mineral extraction and processing sector. But the worldwide financial avalanche of 2008 has driven down the price of nickel – along with other raw materials. Vale’s corporate “brains” believe they can make more money by leaving the ore in the ground, waiting for it to appreciate in value, than by digging it out, processing it, selling it in a “depressed” market, and putting it to work.
Vale is a highly diversified company with deep, deep pockets. Iron ore and dozens of other metals contribute just as significantly to its profits as nickel. It calculates that it can afford to shut down its Canadian nickel production for months or years without greatly hurting its overall bottom line. Private mining companies have followed and promoted “boom-bust” cycles for generations, in contemptuous defiance of their workers, community needs and national interests. But the relentless globalization of capital gives this tactic a vicious twist. “Private property” in individual mineral stakes has been consolidated and sold off to multinational corporate behemoths, without any effective intervention or regulation by national governments. In Canada over the past five years, barbarians at the gate like Vale, Xstrata and RioTinto – and (in the Steel Sector) US Steel, ArcelorMittal and Essar – have been given a free pass by right-wing governments to swallow the likes of Inco, Falconbridge, Alcan, Stelco, Dofasco and Algoma. Now their agenda is being advanced at full throttle.
Vale Inco is using the recent financial meltdown to tighten the screws on its workers. It has tabled “non-negotiable” demands that show its naked purpose. After extracting $4billion in profit from its Sudbury “assets” since acquiring them 3 years ago, it wants to undermine pension benefits – deferred wages – for generations to come. And it wants to eliminate the “nickel bonus”, which, despite its many drawbacks, was a way for Sudburians to share a little of the profit in good times. Vale’s intransigence on this point – at a time when it’s virtually no-cost at the current price of nickel – shows that it’s driven not by financial need but by long-term cynical greed, and by determination to break the union. Furthermore, recent leaked documents show that it plans to cut its workforce – which fell from 12,000 in 1980 to 3,000 today – to 1,800.
“Ourselves alone” has long been the strength, and weakness, of the Steelworkers Union in Sudbury. The miners have traditionally dug in for the long haul, self-reliant, waiting it out. But this is a time when wider community support, working class solidarity and international coordination is urgently needed. The Communist Party pledges to help build this.
We salute the Vale Inco workers for their courage in walking away from the bargaining table and resisting huge concessions.
We call on all Canadian unions and working class organizations to rally around the struggle of the Vale Inco workers.
We call for international labour solidarity against the depredations of Vale Inco in Sudbury and across the globe.
We call for federal and provincial intervention to force the arrogant ‘suits’ of Vale Inco to bargain in good faith, and to guarantee production and workforce levels in Canada.
We call for national and provincial bans on scab labour, which would prevent Vale’s attempts to run certain smelting operations during this strike.
We call for a Canada-wide labour campaign to put our natural resources and key manufacturing sectors under public ownership and control.
Nationalize Vale Inco!
Issued by the Ontario Committee,
Communist Party of Canada
290A Danforth Ave.,
Toronto, Ont. M4K 1N6
A news despatch [sic] states that in the British House of Commons it was said that three British Boy Settlers had committed suicide during the last year in Australia. Apparently in spite of all the excuses for the acts of the five boys who have taken their own lives here in Canada, it seems to be a general rule that boy immigrants do so because of the conditions of slavery under which they work. In our last issue we showed how these boys were delivered bound over to Canadian farmers as cheap labour. In Australia also this is done. Another reason why the Labour movement should fight like the devil to abolish this infamous practice.
THREE HUNDRED MORE CHILD SLAVES
A recent press despatch states that three hundred more children from Great Britain have arrived in Ontario under the parental wing of the Salvation Army. Quite a long report is given of the details of their arrival, and a really beautiful description of the distributing homes in the Niagara Peninsula is written into the account. The press despatch goes on to state that steps have been taken to prevent the boys passing through the city of Toronto while passing to the homes because there is "a possibility of encountering temptation while doing so." Another enlightening paragraph states that the farmers are demanding boys, boys, and more boys in order that their crops may be safely garnered this fall.
In fact, "quite an interesting scene is depicted when the newcomers arrive, and the farmers flock to the hostel to secure their boy farmhands."
As far as the temptation bunk is concerned, we have an idea that the Sanctimonious Army is not so much worried over the evils that the boys may encounter, but that they do so in an effort to live up to every clause of their contract in delivering the child farmhands over to the farmers who are so eager to receive this bountiful cheap labor. And the scene of the farmers grabbing at the cheap labor reminds me of the old slave markets of the Southern States before the Civil War. Once again we protest against this slave trade and denounce those who are responsible for delivering these children of British workers into believing that they are escaping any misery by migrating to this country.
March 5, 2010
above: a graphic calling for pressure in the
form of a BDS campaign.
Try as politicians might (see post below), it seems that Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW for short) is growing. IAW is held in more places with each year. This is the first year the events denouncing the system of Israeli Apartheid against Palestinians is held on the University of Manitoba campus. The event runs March 8-12th.
[link to the Winnipeg week here.]
Already pressure is being put on university officials to stop the events. Two news report links: 1 2
the central website of the sixth annual Israeli Apartheid Week can be found here.
Ontario Communists Oppose Tory Private Member’s Motion Equating Criticism of Israel with Hate Speech
The Communist Party of Canada (Ontario) is unequivocally opposed to the Private Members’ motion titled “Israeli Apartheid Week” moved by Tory MPP Peter Shurman (Thornhill), and passed “unanimously” by about 30 MPPs present in the Ontario Legislature last Thursday February 25th.
The motion reads:
“In the opinion of this House, the term “Israeli Apartheid Week” is condemned as it serves to incite hatred against Israel, a democratic state that respects the rule of law and human rights, and the use of the word “apartheid” in this context diminishes the suffering of those who were victims of a true apartheid regime in South Africa.”
In fact, Israeli Apartheid Week is recognized in South Africa, in Canada, and around the world as a week of public events and activities focusing on peace in the Middle East and the main obstacle to peace in the region: Israeli expansionism, and Israel’s refusal to abide by United Nations resolution 242 which calls for Israel to withdraw its troops to its pre-1967 borders, and for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Also recognized around the world is the shameful US – and now Canada’s – role in supporting Israel’s flagrant and long-standing flaunting of this and many other UN resolutions, as well as the continuation and escalation of Israel’s policies of war, occupation, assassination, kidnapping, torture and detention, partition, economic de-stabilization, starvation, the withholding of water, the bulldozing of homes and shops, and the targeting of civilians generally and particularly in the bombing that leveled Gaza.
These are war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by successive Israeli governments against the Palestinian people, against Israeli citizens, against the peoples of the Middle East and the world’s peoples.
Canada stands virtually alone on the global stage in its unconditional support for Israel, to the shame of millions of Canadians who look to their legislatures for political solutions that will lead to a just and lasting peace in the region – not threats and intimidation here at home.
Canada’s role in supporting these crimes against humanity is disgraceful and it is to the credit of the youth and academics on Ontario campuses, to the labour and democratic movements, and to progressives in some secular institutions, who were among the first (but by no means the last) to speak up for peace, democracy, and justice in the Middle East, and for democracy, truth, and justice in Canada.
To state the facts and to demand a change in Canadian, US and Israeli policy is not anti-Semitism, it is the fresh air of democracy. The anti-Semites are those who would equate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, thus ascribing to all Jews an intrinsic or inherent support of Israeli government policy. But the truth is that many Jews in Israel, in Canada and elsewhere around the globe, do not support Israeli government policy and growing numbers are speaking out and becoming active and involved in campaigns such as the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign. These campaigns are also supported by anti-apartheid veterans such as COSATU and the ANC in South Africa.
While it’s no surprise that the Tories in Ontario are a small echo of their extremist and reactionary federal cousins, it is shocking and disturbing that the Ontario NDP also supported this resolution which threatens free speech and assembly here at home, while distorting the truth of Canada’s foreign policy supporting war crimes and crimes against humanity abroad.
The NDP should disavow itself of this motion, and clarify its policy on the Middle East and on free speech and free assembly here at home. As things stand, the NDP caucus accepts that criticism of Israel is hate speech in Ontario. Is this new NDP policy?
For our part, the Communist Party is proud to sponsor and participate in the numerous events being organized this week, that will help Ontarians learn more about the causes of the crises in the Middle East and in the process help build the movement for a just political solution as laid out in UN resolution 242, for lasting peace and mutual security in the region.
For more information, contact Elizabeth Rowley, Ontario Party leader at 416-469-2446 or via email at Rowley@cpc-pcc.ca
Good Jobs For All Coalition Slams Harper’s 2010 Budget for Failing to Fix EI and Help Canada’s U Back to Messages
For Immediate Release
Thursday, March 4, 2010
TORONTO – The Harper Government’s 2010 Federal Budget has utterly failed to fix Employment Insurance (EI) and help thousands of unemployed workers survive Canada’s ongoing economic crisis.
Despite a national unemployment rate of 8.3%, the Harper Government has merely tweaked the EI program by temporarily extended EI’s worker job sharing program from 52 to 78 weeks up until March 2011. The government’s job sharing program provides temporary income-support to workers eligible for EI benefits who are forced to work a reduced work week.
“We’ve been studying EI reform for months but this Budget proves that the Conservatives really have zero interest in helping unemployed workers, says Tam Goossen, co-Chair of the Good Jobs For All Coalition. “We need a massive stimulus package, not the crumbs the Conservatives have tossed us in this Budget. We are in an emergency here. Our country’s safety net is broken and needs to be repaired, but this Budget does nothing to help us.”
“While Harper’s been out suspending Parliament we’ve been dealing with his failure to fix EI,” says Mike Seaward who was one of 136 people who were laid off from Signature Aluminium in Richmond Hill, Ontario, over Christmas break. “I worked at Signature Aluminium for 39 years, and all that time I’ve paid into EI. The extension of the job sharing program does nothing more to help me pay my bills and get another job. I’m really struggling.”
Despite promising to freeze MP salaries, Harper will still earn about $315,462 in 2010. Harper earned about $52,000 during this latest suspension of Parliament, totalling $6067 a week. In contrast, an unemployed worker living in Toronto would get about $2881during this same period, which amounts to a meagre $339 a week.1
“The Conservatives’ 2010 Budget shows that Harper is not serious about the well being of unemployed Canadians,” says John Cartwright, President of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council. “Those who lost their jobs near the beginning of this recession are running out of EI benefits, but they still can’t find work. For over 425,000 unemployed Ontarians who are still not getting EI because the rules are unfairly strict, fixing EI is about whether they can pay rent and feed their families. Fixing EI means more than just temporarily extending the job sharing program. What the budget has given us is a continuation of the corporate tax cuts.”
The Good Jobs for All Coalition is seeking the following changes to the EI system:
Decrease the number of hours a person needs to work a year to qualify for EI to 360 hours (it currently ranges from 360 to 910 hours) for all regions across the country, and decrease the number of hours needed to be worked to access EI again;
Increase benefit duration to at least 50 weeks in all regions;
Provide an additional year of “Special Extension” benefits if national unemployment exceeds 6.5% - paid from federal general revenues;
Increase benefit amounts to at least 60% of normal earnings (it is currently 55%), using workers’ 12 best weeks to calculate benefit amounts, and
Eliminate the 2 week mandatory waiting period.
For more information and interviews, please contact:
Jessica Bell, Communications/Campaigns, Toronto & York Region Labour Council, firstname.lastname@example.org, 416 937 0076 or
John Cartwright, President, Toronto & York Region Labour Council, 416-999-5663
Since October 2008, almost 50,000 full-time paid jobs have been lost across Canada. Unemployment is expected to reach 8.5% this year, and the real rate of unemployment – counting people who have been forced into part-time jobs who have given up looking for jobs – is over 12%.2
The current EI system provides only half the coverage for Torontonians than it did in Canada’s last recession - because fewer workers quality and benefit weeks have been reduced. In 1990, 59% of unemployed workers in the Greater Toronto Area received EI. In 2008, however, only 23% of workers in this region were receiving EI.3
The Good Jobs for All Coalition is an alliance of more than 40 community, labour and student groups representing people throughout the Greater Toronto Area. For more information on the Coalition and its’ members go to: http://goodjobsforall.ca/
March 2, 2010
YCL BC Committee, March 2010
The YCL BC expresses its firm opposition to the 10% price increase for FareSaver tickets and monthly passes on Translink services scheduled to become effective April 1st.
The cost of transit fares in the lower mainland has skyrocketed out of control, particularly in the last few years. Far from a luxury, the public transit system is a necessity for thousands of working people and for the majority of youth and students. Increased fares continue to make the transit system less accessible for young workers and students. Already a trip to work and back for a young worker costs between $5 and $10 while minimum wages sits at $8 for over eight years. Monthly passes will now cost from $81 to as much as $151. Many students are not covered under the various pass programs which offer lower rates.
We can’t continue to pay the endlessly increasing costs of Translink operations. The YCL demands:
- A publicly owned and operated transit system
- Meaningful public input in transit expansion decisions
- Democratically elected governance and the right to recall
- Expansion of transit services to meet the needs of those who use it; working people, youth, students, and the poor
- Funding through progressive taxation, not through high fares. This means taxing the rich and the corporate elite, not regressive taxes like the HST
- A system of reduced fares for ALL students
- Reduction and eventual elimination of fares to make transit accessible for all
In the long term, our struggle is for a socialist Canada where the working class, including youth and students, democratically own and control the wealth of society which they alone produce. When society’s wealth is put to work improving the lives of the people rather than enriching a small group of elites, all manner of public services including public transit can be funded at never before seen levels to serve the needs of society as a whole.
February 28, 2010
Young Communist League of Canada, March 2010.
The Young Communist League celebrates International Women’s Day and calls on youth and students, regardless of gender, to unite against the Harper Conservative anti-women agenda.
For around 100 years International Women’s Day (IWD) has been celebrated across the globe. In many places, including the socialist countries, it is celebrated as an official holiday. IWD is a time to celebrate the heroic struggles of women, including young women and girls, across the planet throughout history for equality and freedom. It is also a time to renew these struggles as they are still needed so long as patriarchy and capitalism exist.
The Harper Conservative government represents an immediate threat to the rights of women in Canada.
In 2008, the Tories proved their continued opposition to women’s reproductive rights by introducing the “unborn victims of crime act,” which would have opened the door to further laws limiting or prohibiting access to abortion. Young women need a pro-choice agenda which provides education and access to both birth control and abortion free and without harassment by anti-choice forces.
Harper has attacked women’s shelters and advocacy groups with funding cuts which have resulted in, among other things, 12 out of 16 regional offices of Status of Women Canada being closed, and the elimination the Court Challenges Program.
Pay equity is also under attack. Women in Canada still only make about 70% as much as men for comparable work. The governments has ignored and rejected recommendations, including those from a federal task force, to introduce pay equity legislation. In fact, Harper took steps to deepen pay inequity when he introduced the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act which allows public sector employers to use “market demand” in determining compensation to public sector workers.
Young women typically remain stuck in low paid work of a part time or casual nature with no benefits or job security. Low minimum wages, which is some instances come in below the poverty line, limit the economic independence of young women and are a barrier to young families. Many young women are forced to work multiple jobs to get by and face harassment on the job.
The inequity of pay means an unequal ability to pay the crushing debt sentence imposed on students when they leave campuses and enter the work force. Current student debt in Canada runs over $13 billion and much of this is carried by young women. Young women face sexist barriers in education and are streamed into traditionally female roles in high schools.
Prostitution and trafficking of women and children continue to be serious issues and were worsened by the recent Olympic Games which saw an influx in the sex trade aimed at wealthy tourists attending the Games. The majority of women entering the sex trade are youth.
The brutal and unjust occupation of Afghanistan is another tragedy for women. Thousands of Afghan women and girls have been among the civilian casualties. Afghan Parliamentarian Malalai Joya was suspended from office and met with threats of rape and murder when she criticized the warlords now ruling the country with the backing of Canadian and other imperialist troops. She continues to receive threats to this day. In 2009, Afghan Parliament introduced a bill which would legalize rape within marriage. The current troop surge is intensifying violence in the region and worsening the situation for women and girls.
While the Tories represent an immediate danger to women’s rights, the capitalist system itself is fundamentally patriarchal in nature. Patriarchy is not only a development of the class system but a tool of the capitalist class. Sexism is used to divide the working class, youth and students and create conflicts based on gender in order to obscure the fact that the true enemy of working men and women is not the opposite gender, but the capitalist class. Inequity increases competition between workers and reduces co-operation. Sexism is not just a gender issue, it’s a class issue.
One of the most disturbing aspects of this sexist system is violence against women. 51% of Canadian women have faced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 16. 31% of sexual assaults are reported as being perpetrated by a date or acquaintance. Many more are carried out through the use of date rape drugs. The majority of victims in these crimes are young women between the ages of 16-24. Every minute of every day, a woman or child is being sexually assaulted. In poor communities like the Vancouver Downtown East Side, one of the most impoverished areas in North America, women are particularly vulnerable. Over 3000 Aboriginal women are known to have been murdered or disappeared since the 1980’s. At least 18 women have gone missed or been murdered on the “Highway of Tears” in BC and Alberta.
The majority of these cases go unreported and almost all of them go unpunished. Violence against women is the natural outgrowth of the sexism inherent in the capitalist system which defines women as weak and helpless, as sex objects, as second rate people.
While there is never any excuse for rape or other violence against women, we must recognize that it is not only individual men who commit these crimes that are to blame, but the patriarchal capitalist system itself. The system that dehumanizes women, turning them into sexual objects while promoting the cult of male dominance and female subservience every day through the media, entertainment industry, pornography and even the education system. It’s on the cover of almost every magazine at the grocery store, in the lyrics of every song on MTV that described women as “bitches” and “hoes,” it’s in the 1.5% rate of eating disorder amongst young women.
Women who fit these stereotypes and play into the patriarchal capitalist system are promoted as role models while women who courageously stood up for their sisters and their class are forgotten or condemned. Real role models can be found all throughout the history of the working class movement in Canada and the world; like Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Annie Buller, Becky Buhay, Celia Sanchez, or Angela Davis.
The YCL fight for a socialist Canada where patriarchy will be ended and true equality will flourish. We also fight for changes that will strengthen women’s rights and equality in the present, such as:
1 Stop and reverse Harpers anti-equality agenda
2 Troops out now! End the occupation of Afghanistan. Solidarity with the women of Afghanistan and the world
3 Safe, public, accessible abortion clinics across Canada.
4 Affordable housing for all
5 Protect and expand LGBT-Q equality
6 Equal access to education. replace the student loans program by student grants; eliminate post-secondary tuition fees and pay students a stipend; massively expand trade programmes, including young women
7 A universal, affordable, non-profit childcare system with Canada-wide standards
8 A 30 hour week with no loss in pay and no reduction in public services; full benefits for part-time workers; raise the minimum wage to $16 an hour
9 Restore and extend employment and pay equity legislation; expand job creation programs, especially for disadvantaged young women; remove barriers to EI coverage; expand parental leave benefits to 52 weeks
10 Reinstate and expand core funding for equality-seeking women's organizations, including NAC; full funding for grassroots, feminist services to deal with violence against women
11 Enshrine within the constitution the rights of Aboriginal peoples, Quebec, and Acadians to self-determination and self-government, and guarantee the full economic, social and political equality of Aboriginal women
12 Restructuring of the way the legal system deals with violence against women, rape, and prostitution to better protect women from abuse
Capitalism is the root cause of the current attack on women’s rights. Corporations have everything to gain by paying women less, keeping working people divided, and promoting sexism and misogyny. Under capitalism, women face double oppression – as workers, and as women. Women work, study, and when they come home they do the majority of the housework. But they get the minority of the pay and recognition.
There is a strong need for a pan-Canadian women’s organization with a strong youth presence. Young women today can say “We won’t take it anymore!” and fight to end the oppression that their mothers and grandmothers fought against before them when they won such basic rights as the right to vote. We call for broad participation of youth and students in IWD demonstrations and activities as well as support for the World March of Women being held internationally from March 8-October 17. We look forward to a strong young women’s component to the Canadian delegation to the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students this December in South Africa. The oppression and inequality directed at women can only be ended once and for all by ending the capitalist system and building a new society where the working people, men and women together, call the shots in their common interests.
This article is part of an seven-part series of short quotes Rebel Youth is issuing about class struggle, revolution, civil-war, and pa...
Letter of Condolences to the Victims of Natural Disaster in Japan World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) would like to express its...
Rebel Youth is looking for hitchhiking stories, and also experiences with the challenges faced by women, trans people, hitchhickers facing ...